When I was in Primary school, I remember eagerly waiting for my Dad to visit my school for a one-on-one Parent-Teacher meeting. When he arrived, I immediately had mixed feelings. I was happy he came and at the same time, I was a bit embarrassed because of what he wore, so embarrassed that I almost didn’t go welcome him. He wasn’t exactly poorly dressed, because you could tell he’s put some effort into looking neat and presentable, but his clothes were really old. Neatly ironed, but still old. As soon as I summoned up enough courage to go hug him, I whispered into his ear: “Baba, don’t you have fine clothes to wear?” I was quite certain he heard me, but he didn’t offer me a response, at least not yet.
Now, as a background, I have 5 brothers and 2 sisters. As school closed, we would return home with our report sheets, school fee invoices and list of items required for the next term. When we get home like that, we all present our results. Good results were usually rewarded with a Big Chicken and more provisions for the next term and poor results were frowned at with threats of shortened rations for the next term. You would hear my father say things like: “I will make sure you return to school next term with your old school uniform and sandals, without provisions but Garri (Cassava flakes) and Kuli-kuli (Groundnut cake). In our home, this was worse than a death sentence.
As we got home this time, my Dad (who at that time was a Military Nurse) summoned us all to the living room later in the evening. As we sat, we noticed that quite a substantial stash of money was stacked on the dinner table. My Father then handed us our school invoices and asked each of us to call out the amount stated on our papers. As we did, he would hand each person the corresponding amount from the stash on the table.
When we finished counting, he said: “I remember Baby (that’s what he calls me) asked why I don’t wear new clothes” he paused “this is because all the money we make goes to you all. We want to make sure you all go to good school, learn and be great in future” I got really emotional. He continued: “I won’t find peace until you all go to school to learn and be great” He leaned forward “Your mother and I can as well use all the money for ourselves but we decided to invest in you all” He asked my mother to hand him a paper and he asked me to read out the content. It was an Admission letter accepting him for a post-graduate course in Medicine. –Apparently, he had been pursuing this admission for a while and he told us he had to decline the offer because the fees was quite substantial and it was either that or our own education and he chose us.
My mother added her voice by saying we should help her finish her schooling because she only has a primary (elementary) school certificate. She pleaded with us not to disappoint my father but study hard and get good grades.
After that discussion, I went to bed feeling so sorry for them and also felt very grateful for having such a huge opportunity and at the privilege of being at the receiving end of such an amazing sacrifice. That night, I promised myself to make sure I learn and study hard in order not to disappoint my parents.
Looking back, I could easily say that evening was a major turning point in my life. That was the night I made the conscious decision to never stop learning and learn whatever I can to make my parents proud. Over the years, I’ve graduated from the University with degree in sociology, attended various trainings in Nigeria, USA and UK. Presently, I’m rounding up a Masters’ Degree in International Relations and it was all because I understood the value of the sacrifices my parents made for us towards achieving good education.
The passion I’ve gained over the years for learning almost rival the one I have for helping others learn. In recent times, I have organized and facilitated trainings for Bank Employees, girls and women on entrepreneurship, self-awareness, Customer Service, Human Resources, Digital Marketing, World pulse, Digital Literacy, and Events. This will to impart knowledge in others was further reinforced after I participated in Intel’s She will Connect Master Training Session in Abuja and just as strongly by the World Pulse Digital Change Maker 101 course.
As they say, learning is a continuous process and I have taken this mantra to heart especially during my training sessions. Most of the girls/women I’ve trained identified Time, Motherhood, Finances and lack of opportunity as barriers hindering them from achieving education and learning. After the training sessions, we collaborate and exchange ideas with each other on how to overcome these challenges, best manage their time and financial resources in order to achieve their personal goals and bring about the desired positive changes in their immediate community.
For this year, beginning in March, I have given myself a goal to train 100 women on Digital Literacy and entrepreneurship and so far, I’ve been able to train 21 women. There are lots of materials out there on the internet that are tailored specifically for women. These materials have the potentials to change lives but because of the lack of exposure, most women do not have access to them. As such, I’ve taken it as my personal responsibility to bridge the gap and expose as many women as I can to these empowering courses.
There is no shame in education. Age, gender, race and status quo should never be a barrier to learning, but they are. We will continue to work and find new ways to overcome them.
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